Proper maintenance of your boiler and heating system is essential to keep it working efficiently and for as long as it can. Power flushing is a simple solution that can help to maintain your central heating system. Here at Easy Boiler Company, we offer a comprehensive power flushing procedure that will thoroughly clean your central heating system and prevent it from getting damaged.
Many people aren't aware of why they should be power flushing their central heating system regularly, but it really is a key part of keeping it running properly. So what is the purpose of power flushing?
The main purpose of a power flush is to remove the sludge that has built up in the radiators and pipework. Sludge will build up in any central heating system and it says absolutely nothing about how clean or dirty your home is.
When water runs through your pipes and radiators, there is a chemical reaction between the oxygen in the water and the iron. This reaction creates rust particles. Over time, the rust starts to form a black sludge known as magnetite. Other debris is often mixed in as well.
This sludge can interfere with the functioning of the central heating system because it blocks the flow of hot water. Power flushing will remove sludge and remove debris from the entire central heating system.
If sludge is left to grow in the system for too long, it can cause damage to the boiler and heat exchanger, which could leave you having to buy a new boiler.
While there are many maintenance tasks that you can complete yourself, power flushing is not really one of them. To complete a flush, you need specialist equipment and a thorough knowledge of central heating systems and plumbing, so it is always best to use an experienced heating engineer.
The entire power flushing process can take several hours, but it gives a very deep clean to your system.
The first step is to identify how much sludge is present in the system and where it is most accumulated. This will show where the power flushing will most need to be directed.
Next, the electrical controls need to be turned off and the heating system needs to be electrically isolated. The thermostatic radiator valves (or manual radiator valves) will also need to be opened to maximum, as will the diverter valve.
Now the power flusher can be connected to the system (at the circulation pump if it has a pump head adaptor or to a radiator). It needs to be connected to a mains water supply and the dump discharge pipes need to lead to an appropriate waste drain.
If you have an open-vented system, the mains valve needs to be turned off. If the system is sealed, it will need to be de-pressurised.
Once everything is set up, the initial flush of the system can begin. This removes the system water that is already present and then pump it full of clean water. Each of the radiators should be isolated and flushed with the fresh water in turn so that the entire system is flushed evenly.
Next, a chemical cleaning solution will be added and circulated through the system. The cleaning solution helps to lift the sludge so that it can be more easily removed during the second flush.
The second flush is performed in the same way as the first. Each of the radiators will be isolated and flushed individually and the water direction will be reversed periodically to make sure that each nook and cranny is cleaned. Banging the radiator with a rubber mallet can help to dislodge stubborn sludge.
After the second flush is completed, a corrosion inhibitor will be added and circulated through the system. This prevents corrosion by coating the metal in the pipes and radiators with a thin layer of chemicals that prevent the chemical reaction that leads to rust.
While power and chemical flushing are often mixed up, they are actually quite different. Essentially, a chemical flush is a basic version of a power flush. The cleaning chemicals are circulated through the system without the use of a high-pressure pump.
A chemical cleanse on its own can help to prevent sludge build-up and remove some of it but it isn't an effective way of removing large amounts that are already present.
Generally speaking, you should flush your central heating system every five to six years. But there are some telltale signs that you may need a power flush in between those times. Let's take a look at these in more detail.
A radiator that has cold spots and, especially, a radiator that is cold at the bottom but hot at the top is a classic sign that your system is in need of a power flush. The sludge will sink to the bottom of the radiator which blocks the flow of hot water to that area. It can also cause cold spots elsewhere in the radiator.
If you find that your boiler and central heating system make loud noises whenever you turn them on, this can be a sign that there is a lot of debris floating around the system.
Your central heating system won't be able to work as efficiently if it is full of debris so it will take longer for the heat to build. Of course, an efficient system can also be caused by other problems with the boiler or heat exchanger itself, but a gas safe engineer will be able to identify the cause.
If one of your radiators isn't getting as hot as the others, this can be a sign that sludge is blocking the hot water from entering it which means that you will need to power flush your system.
If you notice dirty water when you bleed your radiators, this can be a clear indication that the system is heavily contaminated and needs to be power flushed.
Boiler manufacturers will usually tell you that you absolutely must flush your system before getting a new boiler installed. And there are good reasons for this.
If you are adding a new boiler to an old central heating system, and the system is full of debris, then as soon as the water starts to circulate, this will start to contaminate the new boiler. Getting the most out of your boiler and ensuring that its lifespan is as long as possible is important, and a central heating powerflush can help to protect it.
If you perform the power flush after the new boiler is installed, this can be even more damaging. Power flushing forces water through the system at high velocity, carrying the debris with it. And it will also pump it through your new boiler, which can cause damage.
The results of high levels of sludge in your central heating system can be inconvenient, but regular power flushing can have even more benefits.
When your central heating system is clogged, it can't work as efficiently as it normally would. This means that it will need to use much higher levels of energy to produce the same amount of heat.
This is not only bad for the environment, but it also means that your household energy bills are going to be higher. A regular flush will let your boiler heat your home more efficiently.
It will also mean that the heat distribution is more even throughout your home so each room will be heated to the same temperature.
Your boiler and your heating system will always have a limited lifespan, but this can be quite long. You can usually expect your boiler to last between 10 and 15 years.
If you don't power flush your heating system regularly, this can lower its expected lifespan due to the damage that can result from the debris. This is because it doesn't just stay in the radiators and the pipework. It will migrate to your boiler as well, eventually, and start to cause damage.
There isn't a fixed price for power flushing because the cost will vary depending on a number of factors. This can include how many radiators you have in your property and how much cleaning is needed. Commercial properties will often cost more to power flush than residential properties and some types of systems, such as microbore systems or one with a combi boiler, can be a more complex job.
The average cost of a power flush is around £300 which does make it a much more cost-effective option than having to buy a new boiler prematurely. And it will definitely make your life easier.
A power flush isn't the solution to every central heating problem. There could be damage at any part of the system that won't be fixed by power flushing and, in some cases, the high pressure of the power flush could actually make the damage worse.
It also isn't recommended for very old central heating systems because they may be damaged by the power so, in these cases, a chemical flush would be recommended instead. A gas safe registered engineer is able to assess the system and decide what the best solution is, whether that be a power flush or something else.
Some people believe that microbore systems and ones with a combi boiler can't be power flushed, but this isn't the case. They do require more care but a power flush can still usually be performed.
You can protect your central heating system in between power flushing and reduce how often it needs to be cleaned. Regular use of corrosion inhibitors can help to reduce the build-up of sludge and you can also install a magnetic filter.
A magnetic filter, such as a Magnacleanse filter, provides long term protection and is fitted on the pipe that leads back to the boiler. When the water is filtered through, the magnet attracts the tiny pieces of rust/iron oxide that have been picked up by the water. This prevents them from reaching the boiler and stops them from clumping together within the system.
It is usually not possible for a power flush to remove every single particle of rust throughout the whole system. This is why it is so important to keep up with protection measures and have the system flushed regularly.
With that being said, flushing your system is the most powerful method of cleaning it. So it will give you the best chance of removing as much of the problem as possible.
Whether you need power flushing as part of your regular central heating system maintenance, or you're not sure if your heating problems could be fixed by power flushing and you want to find out, get in touch with us today. We are experts in boiler and central heating system care and will be able to assess your system and power flush it so that it stays working at its best for longer.